By the sound of Sonic Youth's latest disk, New York's guitar-noise barrier busters have abandoned their skronk mandate for quieter avenues of snotty expression. But since what's hip on the East Coast will ever find its way to the West (or is it the other way around now?), there's Medicine.
Not that the L.A. three-piece has much in common with the Youth aside from a prodigious facility with shimmering, skating crossbeams of guitar noise. Drummer Jim Goodall's rhythmic underpinning has a decidedly Manchester sort of groove, and Beth Thompson's vocals are pure, sweet dream pop, even if she does sometimes draw lyrical inspiration from books of murder photographs. What really hooks you to Medicine's songs, though, are the multidirectional vectors of founder Brad Laner's guitar storms. Even when the music's roots roll along in saccharine waves, there's always a thick, melodic fuzz scratching the surface into a faceted chop.
Medicine coalesced from the remnants of L.A.'s early-'80s art-punk scene, releasing an EP called 5ive, the full-length debut Shot Forth Self-Living and most recently The Buried Life. The present tour is the band's first headlining trek across the States, previewing a June 14 release for the upcoming EP Sounds of Medicine Stripped and Reformed Sounds. You can also hear the band on the alt all-star soundtrack to The Crow.
It's a sound that blurs the borderline between music and noise -- a line some like to see crossed -- to great effect. But there are other ways to take it. As I was writing this, listening loud to Shot Forth Self-Living, my girlfriend walked in from the other room with a look of awful concern on her face. "Are you shaving your head again? I thought I heard the razor going."
-- Brad Tyer
Medicine performs Tuesday, May 17 at Goat's Head Soup, 128 Westheimer. $6. Doors open at 8 p.m. Call 629-3700 for more info.
* Johnny Reno at the Satellite Lounge, May 13 and 14
* Pork at Rudyard's, Friday, May 13
* Ted Nugent at Hurricane Alley, Friday, May 13
* Susanna Sharpe at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, Saturday, May 14
* Doyle Bramhall at Rockefeller's, Wednesday, May 18
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